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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | WRESTLING

Once Again, Kolat Is at a Loss

September 28, 2000|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — Cary Kolat may be the most star-crossed American wrestler ever. Even when he wins, he loses.

Kolat, one of the all-time best U.S. amateur wrestlers, won his first Olympic freestyle match today, saw it protested, then lost the rematch to world champion Mohammad Talaei of Iran, 5-4.

Kolat, one of the favorites at 138 3/4 pounds, later pinned Ramil Islamov of Uzbekistan in 5:52. But Kolat's only chance of advancing into the quarterfinals was for Islamov to beat Talaei later in the day.

Remarkably, it was the third time in four years that a Kolat victory in a world-level championship was stripped by protest.

"When I get to heaven, one of the first things I'm going to ask is: Why does this keep happening to Cary Kolat?" U.S. coach Bruce Barnett said.

Former world champion Sammie Henson, a two-time NCAA champion at Clemson, easily won his first match, needing barely a minute to pound Moon Myung-seok of South Korea, 11-0, at 119 pounds.

Kolat won his first match against Talaei, 3-1, in overtime, but the Iranian apparently protested--the details of a protest are not revealed by mat officials--a two-point scoring move that Kolat initiated off a scramble. Kolat later added the point needed to end the match in overtime.

In the rematch, Kolat gave up his first point when he lost his grip on a clinch--the same kind of point that gave Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner his improbable victory over three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin on Wednesday.

Talaei, wrestling with considerably more energy and confidence than he did in the first match--no doubt relieved that he had gotten a reprieve--then hit a pair of two-point scoring moves in the next 30 seconds to lead, 5-0. Barnett argued one move was worth only one point, not two, but the scoring was not changed.

Kolat scrambled back. He got a point off a caution, another off a takedown and two more on a throw to make it 5-4, but Talaei managed to wrestle out the final 30 seconds without allowing another point.

"I don't like it, and I've never liked it, that a point can be awarded on the mat and allowed to stand, and somebody goes into a back room and changes it," Barnett said.

Kolat was obviously angry at losing a match he felt he had already won, responding only with an expletive as he ran by reporters. The United States did not have the option of filing a protest and asking for a re-wrestle of the re-wrestled match.

Because of the appeals and protests that led to his two prior match reversals in the world championships, Kolat is personally responsible for two international rule changes--including the rule that led to the protest format that cost him his victory Thursday.

Following a loss in the 1997 world finals which an opponent--also from Iran--gained advantage by untying his own shoes on the mat, wrestlers now must tape their shoes. Also, all protested matches now are re-wrestled, rather than the decision being awarded to the protesting wrestler, as happened when Bulgarian Serafim Barzakov overturned his 1998 loss to Kolat in the second round of the world championships. Kolat wrestled back to get a third place that year.

Last year, wrestling with a badly separated shoulder, Kolat beat Elbrus Tedeev of Ukraine, 4-2, in the world semifinals. But Tedeev protested, arguing a takedown attempt early in the match was incorrectly ruled out of bounds, and Tedeev won in overtime, 2-1.

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